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 June 5 

This week's developments

House budget likely to propose deep spending cuts

The House version of the budget is expected to be completed next week, although elements of the plan have already been reported. According to these reports, the House will propose to balance the state budget by making deep spending cuts. We are now hearing further discussion of a possible tax package that also may be considered next week. As earlier reported, the state budget for the next fiscal year is likely to be 20 percent less than last year's base budget -- about $4 billion less in spending than last year. We do not have a clear picture yet of how proposed budgets cuts might affect municipal revenues or how state agency cuts may affect your operations.

We will be gathering information on all proposed changes and providing information and analysis as more complete information is known. We will evaluate the state's budget proposals and recommend that municipal officials work to secure the most critical and essential revenues and state programs. We must work with the General Assembly on behalf of our residents to keep North Carolina and our cities and towns on a solid financial footing. So far we do not know of any specific proposals that would threaten essential revenues. If we hear of any such proposals, of course we will immediately inform the membership. We doubt the state budget will be in place by July 1. While we hesitate to recommend that city councils consider adopting an interim budget and delay setting the property tax rate until after July 1, the law does authorize that option.

Criminal justice certification and training cuts proposed

Some proposed changes affecting municipal budgets include: elimination of free community college tuition for public safety employees who take job-related courses; and the establishment of new fees for certification ($200) and annual recertification ($100) for criminal justice officers certified by the Criminal Justice Standards Commission. Bear in mind these are proposals and only at this stage. Please express your concerns about the local impact to members of your delegation.

Law enforcement special separation allowance

We have been working on some additional changes to HB 816 – Clarify Local Special Separation Allowance. This bill, which has passed the House, has been held in a Senate Committee while we work with representatives of the law enforcement community on additional changes. The bill clarifies the law concerning the application and administration of the special separation allowance for law enforcement officers. We are close to reaching an agreement.

Bill advances to defer property taxes on builders' inventory

The House Commerce Committee gave a favorable report to a committee substitute for HB 852 – Defer Tax on Builders' Inventory. The bill, which has been broadly supported by House leadership, now moves to the House Finance Committee. We have worked with legislators to significantly narrow the scope of this legislation. The builder has a limited window (through 2012) to apply for a property tax deferral (maximum of three years) that applies only to taxes on a builder's newly constructed home “inventory” that have not been sold, and does not apply to land, additions, remodeling, or renovations.

Notice on zoning amendments moves to House Floor

SB 1027 – Zoning Change/Property Owner Notice moves to the House floor after receiving favorable reports from the House Ways and Means and Judiciary II committees. The bill, which already has passed the Senate, requires that if an applicant other than the property owner applies for a rezoning, the applicant must certify that the property owner of the land has been notified of the zoning map amendment and public hearing. We worked with the sponsor early in session to improve the bill. Does not apply to city-initiated zoning map amendments.

Cutting more trees near billboards?

We are studying the latest version of HB 1583 -- DOT Vegetation Removal Changes to determine its effects on cities and towns. This legislation would expand the ability of outdoor advertising companies to remove vegetation in the public-right-of way near billboards. We are concerned that the bill overrides existing local ordinances controlling tree regulation, and will work to amend the bill.

Preferential treatment for businesses owned by military veterans?

HB 912 -- Encourage Use of Military Veteran Contractors would establish a program to give preferential treatment in awarding of government contracts to businesses owned by military veterans. In its current form, the proposed program would be very difficult for local governments to administer, including identification of veteran-owned businesses. The Senate Commerce Committee sent this bill to a subcommittee, and we will work with the bill sponsor to address our concerns.

Heard in the Legislative Halls

Thanks to Village of Pinehurst Manager Andy Wilkison for his ‘Bring 5' group of residents who visited with legislators this week in support of reasonable annexation authority. We also thank Town Manager Todd Clark for bringing a small group from Newton to see legislators on municipal issues. Contact League Grassroots Coordinator Jennifer Webb today to schedule your 'Bring 5' group to Raleigh in June.

 

Federal Stimulus Spotlight

Energy plan trainings

The N.C. State Energy Office will conduct eight free of cost training sessions for local governments and other governmental units to prepare a Strategic Energy Plan. Such a plan will be a requirement to receive ARRA Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant funds. (NOTE: Guidance and application procedures for municipalities under 35,000 in population have not yet been released, but these applicants will still need a Strategic Energy Plan to accompany their application. The application period is expected to begin later this summer or early fall.)

All sessions are scheduled for six hours. Registration will begin at 8:30, classes start at 9:00, and should end by 4:00. No refreshments or lunch will be provided. Locations and dates: June 9, Tarboro - Edgecombe Community College; June 10, Greenville - Pitt Community College; June 11, Greensboro - Guilford Tech Community College; June 16, Clyde - Haywood Community College; June 17, Hickory - Catawba Valley Community College; June 18, Fayetteville - Fayetteville Tech Community College; June 19, Wilmington - New Hanover Library; June 29, Raleigh - Wake Tech Community College.

There is no charge for the training and no prior registration is required. The State Energy Office intends to post building names and room numbers on its website, www.energync.net. If you have further questions, please contact Jeanette Martin at (919) 733-2230.

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) deadlines

Application information for the State's non-entitlement CDBG funding is available at http://www.nccommerce.com/CDBGforms. Scroll three-quarters down the page and look under the heading "DBG Recovery (CDBG-R) Program." The program, administered by the N.C. Department of Commerce's Division of Community Assistance (DCA), received $12 million in ARRA funding. Applications are due to DCA on June 12, 2009.

Due to the short turn-around time on these non-entitlement CDBG applications, the League urges non-entitlement cities to revisit prior unfunded applications for submission, noting whether those projects fit ARRA criteria. DCA encourages applications that would fund (1) infrastructure providing basic services to residents or (2) activities promoting energy efficiency through rehabilitation or retrofitting of existing buildings. DCA has proposed to allocate $3 million of its allocation for housing, $5.87 million for infrastructure, $2 million for special projects, and the remainder for administrative cost.

Fire Station Construction deadlines

The Department of Homeland Security has released grant guidance for the Fire Station Construction Grant (SCG) program. Grant guidance and applications are now available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) . Funds for this purpose are likely to be limited because the program contains $210 million in nationally competitive funding. Funds may be used for the construction of or upgrades to state and local fire stations. This program is open to all state and local governments that fund or operate fire stations.

Get updated ARRA information

The UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government has established a listserv for elected and appointed officials to share ARRA information. To register for the listserv, please visit http://www.sog.unc.edu/listservs.html

 

Regulatory Update

Groundwater quality standards proposed rules

The League staff would like your input as we prepare public comments on the proposed groundwater quality standards (15A NCAC 2L .0202).  We need your comments by Monday, June 15, to meet the deadline for public comment. Please send your comments to ewynia@nclm.org.

These rules address the treatment processes of waste discharged by non-discharge permittees.  Affected operations could include land application, certain solid waste operations such as landfills, and underground storage tanks.   The proposed rules revise two groups of groundwater quality standards: (1) arsenic, reduced from 50 ppb to 0.02 ppb, and (2) triennial review of standards.  The League is interested in knowing of the impacts of these proposed standards on your operations, especially the lowered arsenic standard.

The proposed rules and accompanying fiscal note are available.  Please examine these materials and analyze the impacts of the proposed rules on your municipal operations.  If you have technical questions regarding the rules, contact Sandra Moore, Sandra.moore@ncdenr.gov, (919) 807-6417.

 

Action Items  

Contact your legislators in the next few days about these issues

House Judiciary II to take up annexation next week!

Support HB 727 / SB 472— Annexation Changes
Update: We anticipate the House Judiciary II Committee to take up the annexation issue next week. Committee members need to hear from you NOW!  Please contact them again and encourage city/town residents to voice their support for fair annexation by passage of HB 727/SB 472 – Annexation Changes.
What the bills would do: Enact 20 changes to address legitimate concerns of citizens while retaining fairness of annexation for in-town residents and annexation as tool for managing growth.
Sponsors: Reps. Love, Starnes, Allen, K. Alexander
Status: House annexation bills, including HB 727, are in House Judiciary II Committee and the issue will be discussed/considered next week.. Senate annexation bills, including SB 472, are in Senate Finance Committee. The Senate Finance Committee has appointed an Annexation Subcommittee to deal with annexation bills and that subcommittee is also likely to discuss the issue next week.
Actions Needed:
1. Ask your legislative delegation for their support and work with them on any questions they have.
2. Contact members of the Senate Annexation Subcommittee to ask them to support SB 472.
Chair: Sen. Daniel Clodfelter (919.715.8331 Danielc@ncleg.net); Members: Senators Hartsell (919.733.7223 Fletcherh@ncleg.net), McKissick (919.733.4599 Floydm@ncleg.net), Purcell (919.733.5953 Williamp@ncleg.net), Shaw (919.733.9349 Larrys@ncleg.net), Stein (919.715.6400 Josh.Stein@ncleg.net), and Stevens (919.733.5653 Richards@ncleg.net)
3. Contact members of the House Judiciary II Committee to ask them to support HB 727.
Vice Chairs: Reps. Glazier (919.733.5601 Rick.Glazier@ncleg.net), Love (919.715.3026 Jimmy.Love@ncleg.net); and Weiss (919.715.3010 Jennifer.Weiss@ncleg.net); Members:
Reps. Blackwell (919.733.5805 Hugh.Blackwell@ncleg.net); Bordsen (919.733.5820 Alice.Bordsen@ncleg.net); Burr (919.733.5908 Justin.Burr@ncleg.net); Crawford (919.733.5824 Jim.Crawford@ncleg.net); Folwell (919.733.5787 Dale.Folwell@ncleg.net); Hurley (919.733.5865 Pat.Hurley@ncleg.net); Jackson (919.733.5974 Darren.Jackson@ncleg.net); Johnson (919.733.5861 Linda.Johnson@ncleg.net); Jones (919.733.5825 Earl.Jones@ncleg.net); Moore (919.733.4838 Tim.Moore@ncleg.net); Parmon (919.733.5829 Earline.Parmon@ncleg.net); Rhyne (919.733.5782 Johnathan.Rhyne@ncleg.net); and Spear (919.715.3029 Tim.Spear@ncleg.net)
4. Contact members of the House Finance Committee to ask them to support HB 727.
Senior Chair: Luebke (919.733.7663 Paul.Luebke@ncleg.net), Chairmen: Gibson (919.715.3007 Pryor.Gibson@ncleg.net), Wainwright (919.733.5995 William.Wainwright@ncleg.net),Weiss (919.715.3010 Jennifer.Weiss@ncleg.net), Vice Chairs: Hill (919.733.5830 Dewey.Hill@ncleg.net), Holliman (919.715.0873 Hugh.Holliman@ncleg.net), Howard (919.733.5904 Julia.Howard@ncleg.net), McComas (919.733.5786 Danny.McComas@ncleg.net), Womble (919.733.5777 Larry.Womble@ncleg.net) Members: K. Alexander (919.733.5778 Kelly.Alexander@ncleg.net), Blackwood (919.733.2406 Curtis.Blackwood@ncleg.net), Blust (919.733.5781 John.Blust@ncleg.net), Braxton (919.715.3017 Van.Braxton@ncleg.net), Carney (919.733.5827 Becky.Carney@ncleg.net), Cotham (919.715.0706 Tricia.Cotham@ncleg.net), Faison (919.733.5749 Bill.Faison@ncleg.net), Folwell (919.733.5787 Dale.Folwell@ncleg.net), Hall (919.733.5872 Larry.Hall@ncleg.net), Hughes (919.733.5754 Sandra.Hughes@ncleg.net), Jones (919.733.5825 Earl.Jones@ncleg.net), Lewis (919.715.3015 David.Lewis@ncleg.net), McCormick (919.733.5654 Darrel.McCormick@ncleg.net), McGee (919.733.5747 William.McGee@ncleg.net), Owens (733.0010 Bill.Owens@ncleg.net), Rhyne (919.733.5732 Johnathan.Rhyne@ncleg.net), Ross (919.733.5773 Deborah.Ross@ncleg.net), Setzer (919.733.4948 Mitchell.Setzer@ncleg.net), Stam (919.733.2962 Paul.Stam@ncleg.net), Starnes (919.733.5931 Edgar.Starnes@ncleg.net), Tillis (919.733.5828 Thom.Tillis@ncleg.net)

 

Oppose SB 600 – Condemnation of Conservation Easements
What the bill would do: Establishes a new procedures and standards for condemnation of properties encumbered by conservation easements.
Sponsor: Sen. Clodfelter
Status: passed Senate, House Judiciary I Committee gave favorable report, re-referred to House Environment.
Actions Needed: In its present form, this bill includes separate condemnation standards and procedures for these properties, including the award of attorneys' fees to holders of conservation easements. Please ask the members of the House Environment Committee to work with the League on acceptable changes to this bill.

Contact members of the House Environment Committee to ask them to oppose SB 600.

Chair: Allen (919.733.5860 Lucy.Allen@ncleg.net). Vice Chairs: Gillespie (919.733.5862 Mitch.Gillespie@ncleg.net), Harrison (919.733.5771 Pricey.Harrison@ncleg.net), Justice (919.715.9664 Carolyn.Justice@ncleg.net), Tarleton (919.733.7727 Cullie.Tarleton@ncleg.net), Underhill (919.733.5853 Alice.Underhill@ncleg.net). Members: K. Alexander (919.733.5778 Kelly.Alexander@ncleg.net), Blackwood (919.733.2406 Curtis.Blackwood@ncleg.net), Floyd (919.733.5959 Elmer.Floyd@ncleg.net), Gibson (919.715.3007 Pryor.Gibson@ncleg.net), Haire (919.715.3005 Phillip.Haire@ncleg.net), Insko (919.733.7208 Verla.Insko@ncleg.net), Killian (919.733.5886 Ric.Killian@ncleg.net), Luebke (919.733.7663 Paul.Luebke@ncleg.net), Martin (919.733.5758 Grier.Martin@ncleg.net), McComas (919.733.5786 Danny.McComas@ncleg.net), McElraft (919.733.6275 Pat.McElraft@ncleg.net), Owens (919.733.0010 Bill.Owens@ncleg.net), Samuelson (919.715.3009 Ruth.Samuelson@ncleg.net), Tucker (919.715.3021 Russell.Tucker@ncleg.net), West (919.733.5859 Roger.West@ncleg.net), Womble (919.733.5777 Larry.Womble@ncleg.net)